Luke Ottaway's picture

The Lamborghini Asterion may be the world’s most desirable plug-in vehicle

This week at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, Lamborghini almost reluctantly showed off a plug-in hybrid beast called the Asterion. It only exists because of regulations, but we’re glad it does.

What do Ferrari, McLaren, and Porsche have in common? Among other things, a hybrid supercar. It was only a matter of time before Lamborghini got in on the act – the Italian boutique carmaker unveiled its Asterion “technology demonstrator” vehicle at the Paris Motor Show and got the world buzzing.

How many horses?

We know you want to hear the numbers, so here they are:

910 combined horsepower
610-hp 5.2L V-10 engine
Three electric motors
31 miles of all-electric range (NEDC)
295 electric horsepower
3.0 second 0 to 60 time
198 mph top speed

The Asterion uses two front-axle electric motors (with torque vectoring, of course) to complement the mid-rear mounted V10, which gets a starter-generator motor integrated with the transaxle.

Why Lamborghini is not thrilled

If you ask Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann, it is a shame the Asterion has to exist. The 550 pounds of added weight from the hybrid components bring the vehicle’s curb weight to 3,968 pounds, dulling the car’s handling characteristics to the point where it cannot be fairly called a supercar under the Lambo definition of the word. Instead, the automaker is referring to the Asterion as a “hyper cruiser.”

As you may have guessed, the vehicle will likely go into production because Lamborghini has to meet Europe’s strict emissions requirements. As Winkelmann told Top Gear:

“We all know what we have to do. Down the road we see turbocharging and plug-in hybrids. There is no way out – assuming the legislation doesn’t change.”

Regulations aren’t the only reason for the Asterion, though. “Even if we might be granted an exemption – as a small manufacturer – there is also the issue of social acceptance,” said Winkelmann. “Things are changing. People are more aware, more sensitive… Many of our customers are entrepreneurs. These people don’t just have passions, they have sharp minds and they know what is going on in the world.”

One might ask why Lamborghini, a small boutique maker that sells barely 2,000 vehicles globally every year, should be subjected to emissions regulations in the first place. How much damage can 2,000 supercars do in a world of hundreds of millions of cars?

Not much. But rules are rules, apparently. And as punishment, we all get to ogle at the Asterion. I for one will shed no tears for Lamborghini.

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